By William Bond
The Tao translated from Chinese means "the way", and Taoist themselves make a real mystery of its meaning. Yet in chapter 1 and chapter 20 of the Tao Te Ching the Tao is also referred to as "The Mother". In Chapter 6, the Tao is also referred to as "The dark female" or the "mysterious female". So the mystery surrounding the meaning of the Tao is not a mystery at all, it is simply another name for Goddess.
Another mystery about Taoism is that even though the Tao Te Ching is suppose to be the "Bible" of Taoism, it is know that Taoism is far older than the Tao Te Ching. This begs the question; what did Taoism teach before the Tao Te Ching? No one is seems really knows, as all records of that period were destroyed.
Very little is also known of its author Lao Tzu. Later Taoist portray him as some great enlighten religious leader, yet there is no facts to support this. All that is known is that he was a secretive man, and was the keeper of the archives of the Imperial Court. So in modern terminology he was a librarian. This then makes sense of why Taoism existed before the Tao Te Ching, it suggests that Lao Tzu wasn't a great spiritual leader, but in reality a scholar. This means that the wisdom is the Tao Te Ching didn't directly come from Lao Tzu but sources he read in the archives, that were much older than him.
There is a legend that Lao Tzu was a reluctant author of the Tao Te Ching, he wrote it down in exchange for escaping from the court. Emperors at the time of Lao Tzu started to destroy all ancient documents. Why they should do this is never satisfactory explained. Probably Lao Tzu being a scholar would be opposed to this destruction yet there would be little he could do about it.
This is would be the time in world history when patriarchy was taking over from Matriarchy. Goddess religions were being attacked and their temples destroyed. If we read the Old Testament today you will find very little in it to suggest that the Jewish people ever worshipped a Goddess. Yet archaeological evidence shows that Goddess worship at one time was commonplace among the Jewish people. When both Christianity and Mohamadism took control both religions set about destroying all ancient knowledge. So why would they want to do this?
Today most governments have no problems about its people learning history. Mostly because all the history we are taught shows that life in the past was far worst than today. Yet in the case of the excavation of Catal Huyuk which is the oldest city ever discovered by archeologists (far older in fact than the Ancient Egyptians). The work on this very important site was abandoned after only one acre was excavated during the 1960s. More recently the excavation has been reopened but the site still remains very controversial.
Now most archaeologists and scholars prefer to ignore all mention of Catal Huyuk. So we see in operation a subtle form of censorship about the Catal Huyuk archaeological site.
So what is so shocking about what the archaeologists discovered on this site? The first thing was a overwhelming amount of Goddess images and a suggestion that Woman ruled this ancient city. Also the city had no means to defend itself and weapon to kill other people were not made by these ancient people. Which suggests that this city lived in peace for thousands of years.
This off course is very different to recent history in our time where wars have been commonplace and every country feels it needs a standing army with all the latest weapons in which to defend itself. This means that if the implication of Catal Huyuk became common knowledge. People will begin to question the behaviour of there own governments and a new political movement would be created.
The same was probably true for China at the time of Lao Tzu all Goddess images and reference to Goddess worship was destroyed. Because the past then was seen to be far better than the present. A Golden age of the past was written about not only by Taoists but by the ancient Greeks in Europe and Hindus in India. So memories and knowledge of the past would of created political instability as the people would want to return society back to "the good old days". Scholars of Lao Tzu's time must of been upset about seeing so much ancient knowledge being destroyed and would of wanted to preserve as much of it as possible. They probably found out that they could plead the case of some of this knowledge to be preserved if it didn't have any references to Goddess Worship or Matriarchy in it. So scholars in an attempt to preserve some of the ancient knowledge would of set about rewriting it and censoring everything about Goddess worship.
Some scholars claimed that Lao Tzu wasn't just one man but a group of scholars which makes sense. Lao Tzu means in Chinese "The Old One" which is not really a person's name but more about what that person or people were trying to do. That is to say they were the keepers of ancient knowledge.
My understanding of the Tao Te Ching also comes from the book, “Gospel Of The Goddess” which I co-wrote with Pamela Suffield, where we write about the paths of the god and Goddess. The path of the god is the movement away from the Great Mother into chaos and conflict but also individuality. While the path of the Goddess is the return to the Great Mother and back to a world of love and harmony once again. The path of the god is led by men and is the patriarchal age, while the path of the Goddess is led by women and is the Matriarchal age.
Modern Scholars have found it difficult to translate the old Chinese of Lao Tzu's time to modern English. For this reason you will find that every translation of the Tao Te Ching is different and sometimes seems to be say different things. I have mostly used the Richard Wilhelm translation but have used other translations when I think it explains the Tao Te Ching better. The Tao Te Ching starts off its first chapter saying-
The Tao that can be expressed is not the eternal Tao
The name that can be named is not the eternal name
Now this has two meaning to it. The conventional meaning is that the Tao is beyond all understanding and words that we have.
Yet in with the back ground of censorship and the destruction of ancient scrolls we can see another meaning. "The Tao that can be expressed" in Lao Tzu's time would be a name of a Goddess, whom he refers to as the "eternal Tao". So "The name that can be named" is in fact the Tao, but that "is not the eternal name" which probably was "The Great Mother".
'non-existence' I call the beginning of Heaven and Earth
'Existence' I call the mother of individual beings.
Therefore does the direction towards non-existence lead to the sight of the miraculous essence,
the direction towards existence to the sight of spatial limitations,
Both are one in origin and different only in name
In its unity it is called the secret.
The secret's still deeper secret is the gateway through which all miracles emerge.
We see Lao Tzu takes the opportunity to put in the word mother in speaking about existence. He also points out that miracles do not come from the material world, we think we live in, they come from non-existence which is the world of thought and feelings.
This also has another meaning, if Matriarchy was being censored in Lao Tzu's time then Matriarchy becomes non existence, because it cannot be talked about or even acknowledged. He then goes on to point out how limiting patriarchy is and how limitless and freeing is Matriarchy. Both Matriarchy and patriarchy come from the Goddess, which in his time became a secret and the deeper secret would be the fact that the Goddess also creates patriarchy as well as Matriarchy. As without both we cannot develop spiritually.
If all on earth acknowledge the beautiful as beautiful then thereby the ugly is already posited.
If all on earth acknowledge the good as good then thereby is the non-good already posited.
For existence and non-existence generate each other.
Heavy and light complete each other.
Long and short shape each other High and deep convert each other.
Before and after follow each other.
This is really an attack on the patriarchal society. Men by nature are competitive, so in the competitive patriarchal society everything is compared. With the beautiful opposed to the ugly and the good opposed to the bad. Without any realization of what being condemned as being ugly or bad does to people. It is also the difference between conditional and unconditional love. Conditional love says "I only love you if you are beautiful and good", while unconditional love, loves others no matter what they are like. Lao Tzu goes on to point out that the differences we see in the world about us do not in fact oppose each other, but complement each other. Even Matriarchy and patriarchy societies complement each other.
He goes on to say -
Thus also is the Man of Calling.
He dwells in effectiveness without action.
He practices teaching without talking.
All beings emerge and he does not refuse himself to them.
He generates and yet possesses nothing.
He is effective and keeps nothing.
When the work is done he does not dwell with it
And just because he does not dwell he remains undeserved.
This is all about unconditional love in action. He doesn't impose himself on others, he teaches by example, he doesn't judge others, he is always there to help others and he works for the good of others without expecting any reward or praise.
By not preferring the competent one brings about that people do not quarrel.
By not treasuring precious things One brings about that people do not steal.
By not displaying desirable things one brings about that people's hearts are not confused.
In these few lines Lao Tzu gets to the heart of why there is so much hatred, fear and conflict in patriarchal societies. When some people are put above others, when some are given more than others and they flaunt it, then off course it creates envy, resentment and hatred. The result of this we can see in societies of today. Where there is a great difference between the rich and poor, the crime rate is rampant and there is great conflict in society, which has to be controlled by harsh laws and a powerful police force and army. This resentment is also greatly increased in modern societies by powerful advertisement of consumer goods that many in society cannot afford to buy. Yet in countries where the gap between rich and poor is greatly reduced, as in countries like Switzerland or the Scandinavian countries, the crime rate comes down and a more peaceful society is created.
He goes on to say -
Therefore the Man of Calling governs Thus:
He empties their hearts and fill their bellies.
He weakens their will and strengthens their bones.
In other words, if everyone is properly fed and not living is starvation, no one has to fight to keep on living and become brutalized by poverty. So people can live in harmony as they do not have to worry about the future because they know whatever happens, the community will look after them.
And he brings about that the people remain without knowledge and without wishes,
and he takes care that those who know dare not act.
He does the non-doing, and thus everything falls into place.
It seems strange that the keeper(s) of the Emperors Archives should be against knowledge. After all his job was about preserving and passing on knowledge. Yet as a scholar he may of seen the downside of obtaining second hand knowledge. The problem with what is called "Book learning" is that people think they understand something because they have read it in a book, whereas true knowledge comes through experience.
Yet this could also have another meaning. Many rulers of patriarchal countries of the past greatly discouraged education for the common people, because they found that ignorance people far easier to rule. This is because it is far easier to brainwash ignorant people into having the beliefs you want them to have. So any references to keeping the people ignorant would go down well with patriarchal censors reading this text.
Certainly the reference that, “those who know dare not act”, could be about the scholars themselves, if they were to speak out about what they knew, they would be executed. So they were forced to do nothing. Though “non-doing”, in itself has another mystical meaning, it is about changing everything not by engaging with the material world, but by using mind power. Taoism like many pagan religions in the West had a reputation of using ‘magic’, which is about changing the material world through the power of the mind. In modern times we know this as, ‘positive thinking’.
In chapter four he says -
Tao is forever flowing and yet it never overflows in its effectiveness.
It is an abyss like the ancestor of all things.
It mellows their acuity.
It dissolves their confusion.
It unites itself with their dust.
It is deep and yet as if real.
I do not know whose son it is: it seems to be earlier than God.
He seems to be saying that when we are in tune with the Goddess, we live in a world of harmony. The abyss is another Goddess symbol, (The abyss being a symbol of the vagina) and he is saying she is older than any patriarchal deity.
In Chapter five he says -
Heaven and Earth are not benevolent.
To them men are like straw dogs destined for sacrifice.
The Man of Calling is not benevolent.
To him men are like straw dogs destined for sacrifice.
When men created the brave new world of patriarchy, they created deities that they wanted to believed will look after them. Lao Tzu seems to be suggesting that this will never happen, the false gods created by patriarchy, will never protect men. Lao Tzu has a fatalistic view of the patriarchal world and believes disaster will strike all people that believes in patriarchal doctrines.
He goes on to say -
The space between Heaven and Earth is like a flute:
empty, and yet it does not collapse; when moved more and more emerges from it.
But many words exhaust themselves on it.
It is better to guard the 'within'.
Comparing the space between Heaven and Earth as a flute or bellows is another vagina/Goddess symbol, from which everything is created. When he says, “but many words exhaust themselves on it” he is probably attacking patriarchal theology and the meaningless ideas it creates. Though he is also saying it is best to keep quiet about this in a patriarchal world, and go within to find the Goddess or Tao.
Chapter six he says -
The spirit of the valley never dies.
It is called 'the female'
The gateway to the dark female is called 'the root of Heaven and Earth'.
Uninterrupted as though persistent it is effective without effort.
In this chapter Lao Tzu has come the closest of naming the Tao as the Goddess. The valley is another vagina/Goddess symbol, which he calls 'the female' as is the gateway. He then goes on to talk about the Dark or mysterious female, which patriarchal priests claim were dark and mysterious. She is the creator of Heaven and Earth, and continually guiding us all. The last line is another shot at patriarchy as all its conflict and inequality creates hard work and effort for us all, while the world of the Goddess is effortless because it is in harmony with itself.
Heaven and Earth last forever
The reason that Heaven and Earth are able to last forever
Is because they do not give birth to themselves
Therefore, they are always alive Hence, the sage puts herself last and is first
She is outside herself and therefore her self lasts
Is it not through her selflessness That she is able to perfect herself?
(Charles Muller's translation)
The first part of this chapter is the ancient concept that we live in a world without a beginning or ending. This is because if we think of a time when the world began, then we have to think about what happened before then. Modern scientists try to get around the problem through the “big bang” theory that claimed the universe was created by an explosion of matter, and try to claim that nothing existed before the ‘big bang’. Though ancient mystics had another way to get around this problem by claiming that, “time is an illusion”, which is a similar claim made by quantum physics.
I used this translation because unlike other translations it refers to the sage as a she. I do not know if the translator was trying to be political correct or there is something within the ancient Chinese text that suggests that it was a female speaking.
The last half of this chapter is all about the practice of unconditional love. Of not living for oneself and put others first. It also says that love is universal and will last forever.
The highest benevolence is like water.
The benevolence of water is to benefit all beings without strife.
It dewells in places which man despises.
Therefore it stands close to Tao.
In dwelling benevolence shows itself in place.
In thinking benevolence shows itself in depth.
In giving benevolence shows itself in love.
In speech benevolence shows itself in order.
In working benevolence shows itself in timing.
He who does not assert himself thereby remains free of blame.
This is a continuation of learning about unconditional love. People when they start to love others make all the mistakes in the book. The biggest mistake is wanting to be seen doing good for others and wanting credit for it. Then they have to learn when it is appropriate to give love and not to force your help onto others. It makes the point that unconditional love not only requires the desire to help others, it also requires deep wisdom to know what is the best way and best time to do this. Great love has also got to be greatly intelligent, to be helpful. This is why we live on the Earth, to learn the many aspects of love.
To hold until full is not as good as stopping
An oversharpened sword cannot last long
A room filled with gold and jewels cannot be protected
Boasting of wealth and virtue brings your demise
This is the Way of Heaven
(Charles Muller translation)
This chapter needs no explanation, it is all about the dangers of excess and the suffering it creates.
Can you keep the soul always concentrated from staying?
Can you regulate the breath and become soft and pliant like an infant?
Can you clear and get rid of the unforeseen and be free from fault?
Can you love the people and govern the state by non-action?
Can you open and shut the gates of nature like a female?
Can you become enlightened and penetrate everywhere without knowledge?
(Ch'u Ta-Kao translation)
This chapter is more about the enlightened people who has fully learnt to love both themselves and unconditionally love all others. Such a people can be at one, with all that there is, and not loose their individuality. So they can be strong and soft at the same time, they can see clearly the actions of others without judgment or condemnation. They can rule others and still love them and need no books or learning on how to do this. Jesus said that you have to, “be like a child to enter the kingdom of Heaven”. Lao Tzu suggest that for a man to this, he has to be like a female, meaning that an enlightened man has to learn unconditional love for others. (While women have to learn how to love herself).
Truly enlightened people can see clearly what is really happening and in so doing have no desire to interfere, for they know we all must teach ourselves enlightenment. So they can only create the conditions where others can learn.
Thirty spokes unite in one nave,
And because of the part where nothing exists we have the use of a carriage wheel
Clay is molded into vessels
And because of the space where nothing exists we are able to use them as vessels
Doors and windows are cut out in the walls of a house
And because they are empty spaces, we are to use them
Therefore, on the one hand was have the benefit of existence,
and on the other, we make use of non-existence.
(Ch'u Ta-Kao translation)
This chapter is full of vagina/Goddess symbols, also it gets back to the existence and non-existence theme we saw in chapter one. As pointed out earlier non-existence is used as a code word in Mysticism for the power of thought. Matter is frozen thought, so if we want to make real changes to our world, we have to use the power of the mind.
The five colours blind our eyes
The five tones deafen our ears the five flavors confuse our taste
Racing and hunting madden our minds
Possessing rare treasures bring about harmful behavior
Therefore the sage regards his center, and not his eyes
He lets go of that and chooses this
(Charles Muller translation)
This again is a chapter on the dangers of excessive behavior. Too much light blinds people, too much noise deafens them, too much strong flavors make all other food seem bland. The continuous search for excitement get people hooked on it. People can also get addicted to want things that are unobtainable. This chapter is certainly a metaphor for our modern consumer society. So the enlightened person looks within themselves to find what really makes them happy and not search for it in, sex, drink, drugs, food, gambling, money or any other way of becoming addicted.
Grace is as shameful as a fright.
Honour is a great evil like the persona.
What does this mean: 'Grace is as shameful as a fright'?
Grace is something inferior. One attains it, and one is as if frightened.
This is what is meant by 'Grace is as shameful as a fright'.
What does this mean: 'Honour is a great evil like the persona'?
The reason I experience great evil is that I have a persona.
if I have no persona: What evil could I experience?
Therefore: whoever honours the world in his persona to him one may entrust the world.
Whoever loves the world in his persona to him one may hand over the world.
Here Lao Tzu is making the point that we can only obtain grace and honour by putting down others, because we are making the claim; we are better than them. So we become targets for the resentment and hatred. For this reason grace and honour creates competition and conflict. The only way to prevent this it not to desire to be seen as greater, kinder or more charitable or better then others in any way.
One looks for it and does not see it: its name is 'seed'.
One listens for it and does not hear it: its name is 'subtle'.
One reaches for it and does not feel it: its name is 'small'.
These three cannot be separated, therefore, intermingled they form the One.
Its highest is not light, its lowest is not dark.
Welling up without interruption, one cannot name it.
It returns again to non-existence.
This is called the formless form, the objectless image.
This is called the darkly chaotic.
Walking towards it one does not see its face; following it one does not see its back.
If one holds fast to the Tao of antiquity in order to master today's existence one may know the ancient beginning.
This means: Tao's continuous thread.
This is more about the concept that our material world is simply frozen thought. We think we live in a fixed, material world and not see the way our thoughts are creating and re-creating our world all the time. In the chapter he calls thought; seed, the One, formless form, objectless image, darkly chaotic and non-existence. Telling us that thought creates everything.
Those who in ancient times were competent as Masters were one with the invisible forces of the hidden they were deep so that one cannot know them.
Because one cannot know them Therefore one can only painfully describe their exterior.
Hesitating, like one who crosses a river in winter,
cautious, like one who fears neighbors on all sides,
reluctant, like guests,
dissolving like ice that is melting, simple like unworked matter:
broad they were, like the valley,
impenetrable to the eye they were like the turbid.
Who can clear up the turbid, little by little, through stillness (as they did)?
Who can create stillness, little by little, through duration (as they did)?
Whosoever guards the Tao does not desire abundance,
For only because he has no abundance therefore can he be modest, avoid what is new and attain completion.
The image he gives of men of the past is more like that of Women in patriarchal times, shy, modest and submissive. So he is giving a hint that the role of the sexes were then reversed, he also points out that men of ancient times were learning about unconditional love which is something way beyond the comprehension of patriarchal men. He even hints that such men were still present in his own time, who were resisting the new ideas of patriarchy,
Create emptiness up to the highest!
Guard stillness up to the most complete.
Then all things may rise together.
I see how they return.
Things in all their multitude; each one returns to its root.
Return to the root means stillness.
Stillness means return to fate.
Return to fate means eternity.
Cognition of eternity means clarity.
If one does not recognize the eternal one falls into confusion and sin.
If one recognizes the eternal one becomes forbearing.
Forbearance leads to justice.
Justice leads to mastery.
Mastery leads to Heaven.
Heaven leads to Tao
Tao leads to duration.
All one's life long one is not in danger.
This Chapter reminds all Matriarchy minded people still living in Lao Tzu's time not to speak out or even to get upset over the rise of patriarchy. He is saying that one day Matriarchy will return, so to allow the Goddess to complete her plan and keep your thoughts on the eternal Mother. To those Matriarchy minded people who find it difficult to do this. He asks that they learn forbearance, and to see the whole picture of the Matriarchy/patriarchy cycle. Once they can do this then they can be a peace with themselves and not be in danger of retribution from the patriarchal rulers.
From great antiquity forth they have known and possessed it.
Those of the next level loved and praised it.
The next were in awe of it.
And the next despised it.
If you lack sincerity no one will believe you.
How careful she is with her precious words!
When her work is complete and her job is finished, Everybody says: "We did it!"
(Charles Muller translation)
Again Charles Muller uses the word she to describe the sage or Goddess. In this chapter Lao Tzu describes the decline of Matriarchy and the rise of patriarchy. He also points out that in helping others it doesn’t do any good to those we help, to boast about how we helped them. A mother helps her children by praising whatever they accomplish and not make it obvious how she helps her children and this gives them confidence in themselves to become independent of her. This is true in everything we do, we don’t help others by wanting their praise or making them so dependant on us that it undermine their confidence to do anything for themselves.
If the great Tao perishes there will be mortality and duty,
When cleverness and knowledge arise great lies will flourish.
When relatives fall out with one another there will be filial duty and love.
When states are in confusion there will be faithful servants.
Again this chapter is about the decline of society as it moves from a Matriarchal to a patriarchal society. It suggests that the Matriarchal society existed without, leaders, laws and morality. We only need laws, against stealing and murder because people hate others and want to steal and murder other people. Laws, moral codes, customs and taboos only happen because people do not love each other, because people who loves everyone, will never want to hurt or harm others. So a society of loving and caring people do not need laws, moral codes or even rulers.
Put away holiness, throw away knowledge:
thus the people will profit a hundredfold.
Put away mortality, throw away duty:
thus the people will return to filial duty and love.
Put away skillfulness, throw away gain, and there will no longer be thieves and robbers.
In these three things beautiful appearance is not enough.
Therefore take care that men have something to hold on to.
Show simplicity, hold fast to honesty!
Diminish selfishness, reduce desire!
Give up learnedness! Thus you shall become free of sorrows.
This chapter is a follow on from the same theme of the last chapter, showing us how the return of the Matriarchy society will come about, through men learning how to love others. As men begin to learn unconditional love, laws and morality will no longer be needed and he makes the point that unconditional love can not be learnt in books.
This chapter is also similar to Jesus’s criticism of the Pharisees, who were more interested in religious dogma, than understanding the true meaning of spiritual teachings.
Between 'definitely' and 'probably': what difference is there?
Between 'good' and 'evil': What difference is there.
What men honour one must honour.
loneliness, how long will you last?
All men are so shining -bright as if they were going to the great sacrificial feast,
as if they were climbing up the towers in spring.
Only I am so reluctant, I have not yet been given a sign:
Like a infant, yet unable to laugh; unquiet, roving as if I had no home.
All men have abundance, only I am as if forgotten.
I have the heart of a fool: so confused, so dark.
Men of the world are shining, alas, so clever; only I am as if locked into myself,
unquiet, alas, like the sea, turbulent, alas, unceasingly.
All men have their purpose, only I am futile like a beggar.
I alone am different from all men:
But I consider it worthy to seek nourishment from the Mother.
This is my favorite Chapter, when I first read the "Tao Te Ching" this chapter shocked me because it was so true of myself.
For all of my life I have always been an outsider with thoughts and feeling that I dare not express to others. For this reason I have also felt I was a fool, living in a very confusing world with no real purpose in life. The small voice inside me was telling me things that were so different to what I read in book or came from other people. So the Tao Te Ching was a real help to me, it confirm I wasn't alone in the thoughts that came to me, as it’s author it seems had the same thought as what I had.
Lao Tzu at the beginning of this chapter, questions the concept of ‘good’ and ‘evil’. I remember once reading about a prison governor who made the point; that men in his prison didn’t believe themselves to be evil or bad people, and thought of themselves as good people. This is because what is good or evil is really a matter of opinion. The problem with the concept of evil is that once a person is labelled evil, then it becomes a justification to hurt or even kill him. In other words, many of the judgements people make about each other are only opinions, taken from one point of view.
Many people cling to fixed beliefs, like wanting to believe teaching of a religious sect, or political party, or the ideas of science, because these fixed beliefs give their lives certainty. If you question all the beliefs that come your way and don’t latch onto any fixed belief, then life can become very uncertain and confusing. But the advantage of this, is that you can continue to grow, once you stay with the certainty of a fixed belief, you then stagnate.
Chapter twenty one
The substance of the great Life completely follows Tao.
Tao brings about all things so chaotically, so darkly. Chaotic and dark are its images.
Unfathomable and obscure in it is the seed.
This seed is wholly true. In it dwells reliability.
From ancient times to this day we cannot make do without names in order to view all things.
Whence do I know the nature of things? Just through them.
This chapter points out that the unknowable chaos we see in the world about us is just an illusion, there is an intelligent purpose in all life. If we keep on observing without naming and coming to conclusions, we begin to get an understanding of what this intelligent purpose is like.
Also, in the patriarchal world the Goddess or Tao becomes the dark and unknowable. To know the Goddess we have to see through the patriarchal smoke screen.
Chapter twenty two
What is half shall become whole.
What is crooked shall become straight.
What is empty shall become full.
What is old shall become new.
Whosoever has little shall receive.
Whosoever has much, from him shall be taken away.
Thus also the Man of Calling: he encompasses the One and sets and example to the world.
He does not want to shine, therefore will he be enlightened.
He does not want to be anything for himself, therefore he becomes resplendent.
He does not lay claim to glory, therefore he accomplishes works.
He does not seek excellence, therefore he will be exalted.
Because whosoever does not quarrel.
What the ancients said: 'That which is half shall become full,' is truly not an empty phrase.
All true completeness is summed up in it.
Again this is about the future change to a new Matriarchal age. Both men and Women in a patriarchal age are only half people. Men are only learning to love themselves and Women are only learning to love others. It is only in the Matriarchal age when men have learnt fully how to love themselves and are learning to love others and Women have learnt how to love others and are now learning to love themselves, will they become whole. So patriarchal people are out of balance and have got a lot to learn. He also makes the same point as Jesus who said that "The meek shall inherit the earth". Women are treated like slaves in the patriarchal age and men own everything. The roles will reverse in the Matriarchal age.
The second half of this chapter is about the man who has learnt fully how both to love himself and love others unconditionally. Because of this he doesn't make all the mistakes of a patriarchal man. Perhaps such men did still exist in Lao Tzu's time.
Chapter twenty three
Use words sparingly, then all things will fall into place.
A whirlwind does not last a whole morning.
A downpour of rain does not last a whole day.
And who works these? Heaven and Earth What Heaven and Earth cannot so enduringly:
how much less can a man do it?
Therefore if you set about your work with Tao
you will be one in Tao with those who have Tao,
at one in Life with those who have Life,
at one in poverty with those who are poor.
If you are at one with them in Tao those who have Tao will come to meet you joyfully
If you are at one with them in Life those who have Life will come to meet you joyfully
If you are at one with them in poverty those who are poor will come to meet you joyfully,
But where faith is not strong enough there one is not believed
In this chapter Lao Tzu makes the point that the road to enlightenment is very long. So any great effort and energy to get there quickly will not last very long and accomplish very little. He goes on to explain that you will only understand life by living it. So we can only understand poverty by living in poverty. He has a similar theme to modern day Alcohol Anonymous, which claims that; the only people who can help and relate to alcoholics, are people who have been alcoholics themselves.
Chapter twenty four
Whosoever stands on tiptoe does not stand firmly.
Whosoever stands with legs astride will not advance
Whosoever wants to shine will not be enlightened.
Whosoever wants to be someone will not become resplendent.
Whosoever glorifies himself does not accomplish works.
Whosoever boasts of himself will not be exalted.
For Tao he is like kitchen refuse and a festering sore.
And all the creatures loathe him.
Therefore: whosoever has Tao does not linger with these.
This chapter starts off again talking about the dangers of excessive behavior. He then goes on to the dangers of the ego. In Hinduism and the modern New Age movement there have been many holy men who have claimed that they are enlightened and have been worshipped like a god by their followers, which is the ultimate ego trip. Probably the same thing happened in China at the time of Lao Tzu. So he was probably pointing out that by allowing themselves to be worshipped like gods, these holy men proved that they were not in any way enlightened. Yet they were feeding their egos, which is what a man in patriarchal times needs to do to learn how to love himself.
Chapter twenty five
There is one thing that is invariably complete Before Heaven and Earth were,
it is already there: so still, so lonely.
Alone it stands and does not change.
It turns in a circle and does not endanger itself.
One may call it 'Mother of the World'. I do not know its name.
I call it Tao Painfully giving it a name I call it 'Great'.
Great: that means 'always in motion'. 'Always in motion' means 'far away'.
'Far away' means 'returning'.
Thus Tao is great, Heaven is great, Earth is great, and Man too is great.
There are in space four Great Ones, and Man is one of them.
Man conforms to Earth.
Heaven conforms to Tao.
Tao conforms to itself.
In this chapter LaoTzu names the Tao as the Great Mother who created the Heaven and the Earth. He again talks about the great cycle of Matriarchy and patriarchy, suggesting that the Great Mother has gone away but she will return.
Chapter twenty six
The weighty is the root of the light
Stillness is the lord of restlessness.
Thus also is the Man of Calling
He wanders all day without discarding his heavy load.
Even when he has all the glory before his eyes he remains satisfied in his loneliness.
How much less may the lord of the realm take the world lightly in his persona!
By taking it lightly one loses the root.
Through restlessness one loses mastery.
The first two lines are about the fact that you cannot have weight without lightness or stillness without restlessness. So a Man of Calling doesn't try to be either and excepts things as they are. Whether a man is a labourer or Lord of the realm makes little difference to whether he is still or restless. If a man is too still, he loses contact with the world, if he is too restless, he loses control of himself. This Chapter is about the ‘middle way’ that is also written about in Buddhism.
Chapter twenty seven
A good wanderer leaves no trace.
A good speaker has no need to refute.
A good arithmetical needs no abacus.
A good guard needs neither lock or key- yet no-one can open what he guards.
A good binder needs neither string nor ribbon, and yet no-one can untie what he has bound.
The Man of Calling always knows how to rescue men:
therefore, for him there are no abject things
This means: living in clarity.
Thus good men are the teachers of the non-good,
and the non-good men are the subject-matter of the good.
Whosoever does not cherish his teachers and does not cherish love his subject-matter:
for all his knowledge he would be in grave error.
This is the great secret.
Some of this chapter touches on the concept that, “We create our own reality”. This then makes sense of the line, “A good guard needs neither lock or key – yet no-one can open what he guards”. If a man has created within his own mind a reality, that no-one can steal from him, then it will be impossible for anyone to do so. The great secret, is, that we live in a world of mind. The reality we live in, is created by the sum total of everything we think. Change our thoughts and habitual thinking and we change the reality we live in.
He also makes the point that love and intelligence go together. If we love someone it makes it far easier to learn from them. Also if we love the subject we are studying, then learning becomes easy.
Chapter twenty eight
Being a channel of the world,
he will not be severed from the eternal virtue,
An then he can return again to the state of infancy.
He who knows the white and yet keeps to the black Will become the standard of the world;
Being the standard of the world, with him eternal virtue will never falter,
And then he can return again to the absolute.
He who knows honour and yet keeps to humility
Will become a valley that receives all the world into it;
Being the valley of the world, with him eternal virtue will be complete,
And then he can return again to wholeness.
Wholeness, when divided, will make vessels of utility;
These when employed by the Sage will become officials and chiefs.
However, for a great function no discrimination is needed.
(Ch'u Ta-Kao translation)
If a man controls the feminine side of himself he is able to learn how to love himself. Then when he has achieved this and is confident in his masculinity, he can allow the feminine side of himself to express itself and learn unconditional love for others. In our book "Gospel of the Goddess" I co-wrote with Pamela Suffield, we called these the paths of the God and Goddess. The path of the God moves away from the Goddess where men learn how to love themselves and Women learn how to love others. The path of the Goddess is moving back to the Goddess and men learn how to love others and Women learn how to love themselves. So a man on the path of the Goddess is moving back towards her to become once again a child of the Goddess.
In many patriarchal religions white is seen as good and purity while black is seen as evil. Yet many Goddesses are seen as black like Kali and Isis and even the Black Virgins of Southern Europe. So the line that says - "He who knows the white and yet keeps to the black". Suggests that this was also perhaps true in China two thousand years ago where white is associated with patriarchy and black with Matriarchy.
Lao-Tzu is saying that a man cannot become whole or one with Tao until he has experienced both honour and humility. Which probably means he has learnt both to love himself and love others unconditionally.
So a man can never understand deep hatred, fear and misery unless he has experience these feelings within himself. And if he has experience both love and hatred in his life, he then has the knowledge and understanding to consciously choose which he prefers.
Some of this chapter is similar to the poem by Rudyard Kipling called “If”. For instance, the line “He who knows honour and yet keeps to humility” is similar to the lines in “If” that goes, -
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
Through this poem Rudyard Kipling introduced many concepts of Eastern religions to Western people.
Chapter twenty nine
If you want to grab the world and run it I can see that you will not succeed.
The world is a spiritual vessel, which can't be controlled.
Manipulators mess things up. Grabbers lose it. Therefore:
Sometimes you lead Sometimes you follow Sometimes you are stifled
Sometimes you breathe easy Sometimes you are strong
Sometimes you are weak Sometimes you destroy
And sometimes you are destroyed.
Hence, the sage shuns excess Shuns grandiosity Shuns arrogance
(Charles Muller translation)
This chapter could be written about our modern world and the environmental movement. The interference of nature by modern technology destroys nature, which thousands of species of plants and animals becoming extinct in the last two hundred years and forests being turned into desert. Pollution is poisoning our food chain causing the sperm count of men and other male animals to decrease. As well as changing the chemical balance of our atmosphere causing problems like the ozone depletion and the greenhouse effect.
Many people tend to blame these things on science and modern technology, but the real cause is greed. It is greed that is causing over fishing, or the rain forests to be cut down or making cars the manufactures know will pollute the atmosphere, while at the same time not bothering to invest in research of non-polluting energy.
Whosoever in true Tao helps a ruler of men does not rape the world by use of arms,
for actions return onto one's own head.
Where armies have dwelt thistles and thorns grow.
Behind battles follow years of hunger.
Therefore the competent seeks only decision, nothing further.
He does not dare conquer by force.
Decision without boasting;
decision without glorifying;
decision without arrogance;
decision because it cannot be helped;
decision removed from force.
Chapter thirty one
Weapons are instruments of bad omen;
all beings, I believe, loathe them.
Therefore, whosoever has the true Tao does not want to know about them.
The noble man, in his ordinary life, considers the left the place of honor.
In the art of warfare the right is the place of honor.
Weapons are instruments of bad omen, not instruments for the noble.
He use them only when he cannot help it.
Quietness and peace are his highest values.
He gains victory but he does not rejoice in it.
Whosoever would rejoice in it would, in fact, rejoice in the murder of men cannot achieve his goal in the world
In fortunate circumstances one considers the left the place of honor.
In unfortunate circumstances one considers the right the place of honor.
The vice-commander stands to the left, the supreme commander to the right.
This means: he takes his place according to the rules for memorial services.
Killing men in great numbers one must bewail with tears of compassion.
Whosoever has been victorious in battle shall linger as if attending a memorial service.
These are two anti-war chapters that do not need explanation. Throughout the patriarchal age war has been glorified, it has been only in recent times that people have spoken out against the insanity of war.
Chapter thirty two
Tao as the eternal is unutterable simplicity.
Even though it is small the world dares not make it its serf.
If princes and kings could guard it in this manner all things would come to be their guests.
Heaven and Earth would unite to shed sweet dew.
People would find their balance all by themselves, without orders.
When creation begins, only then are there names.
Names too reach existence, and one still knows where to halt.
If one knows where to halt one is in no danger.
The relation between Tao and world may be compared to mountain streams and valley brooks, that shed themselves into rivers and seas.
What this chapter is saying, which is the underlining message of the Tao Te Ching is that we all live in a perfect world. Unfortunately we do not recognized this perfection and interfere with it, causing the chaos we see in our world.
Chapter thirty three
Whosoever knows others is clever.
Whosoever knows himself is wise
Whosoever conquers others has force
Whosoever conquers himself is strong
Whosoever asserts himself has will-power
Whosoever is self-sufficient is rich
Whosoever does not lose his place has duration
Whosoever does not perish in death live.
This chapter is similar to the saying seen on ancient pagan temples "Man know thyself". Self-awareness is the foundation of all spiritual progress without it you cannot even start on the spiritual path. It is impossible to control yourself, to understand yourself or to become enlightened without self-awareness. Many religions and occult schools give out many ways of becoming enlightened but unless you start off with observing your own thoughts and feelings first, then you are blundering about in the dark.
Chapter thirty four
The Great Tao is overflowing:
it can be to the left and to the right.
All things owe their existence to it, and it does not refuse itself to them.
When the work is done it does not call it its possession.
It clothes and nourishes all things and does not play at being their master.
Inasmuch as it is forever not clamoring one my call it small.
Inasmuch as all things depend on it with knowing it as its master one may call it great.
Thus also is the Man of Calling: He never makes himself look great: therefore he achieves the great work.
This chapter is telling us the Great Mother loves us all unconditionally. She gives to us in abundance without demanding anything in return. Unfortunately because of greed, this abundance only goes into the hands of a few. If we were able to give to each other the way the Great Mother gives to us all. There would be not want or poverty in this world.
Poverty and suffering comes about because we have lost contact with the Great Mother, through the worship false gods. If everyone in this world knew that they were loved unconditionally by the Great Mother, and that she will give to us, everything we want. Then poverty and suffering would disappear from our world. The Great Mother has given us all the gift of freewill, so we have the freewill either to ignore her help and guidance or accept it.
Chapter thirty five
Whosoever holds fast to the great primal image, to him the world will come.
It comes and is not violated: In calmness, equity and blessedness.
Music and allurement: They may well make the wanderer stop in his tracks.
Tao issues from the mouth, mild and without taste.
You look for it and you see nothing special.
You listen for it and you hear nothing special.
You act according to it and you find no end.
This chapter tells us that we take the world for granted and therefore do not appreciate it. If we were able to do this we would see its perfection we would not interfere with it or destroy it. If we were to concentrate our minds on the wonder and perfection of our world we would create that in our personal realities. Instead, most of us concentrate our minds on chaos and conflict and in so doing, create more of this in our personal realities.
What you want to compress you must first allow truly to expand.
What you want to weaken you must fist allow to grow truly strong.
What you want to destroy you must first allow truly to flourish.
From whomever you want to take away to him you must first truly give.
This is called 'being clear about the invisible'.
The soft wins victory over the hard.
The weak wins victory over the strong.
One must not take the fish from the deep.
One must not show the people the means of furthering the realm.
This is about the balance of the world. You cannot keep on taking, or you cannot keep on giving. There somehow has to be a balance between these two. Without this balance, everything starts to fall apart. This again could be a chapter about our modern world. Where over fishing causes fish stocks to collapse, cutting down too many trees and intensive farming causes deserts. Over hunting causes animals to become extinct. So is a warning about the dangers and misuse of modern technology even though it was written over two thousand years ago.
It also follows the theme that, “the meek will inherit the earth”. The meek Women of the patriarchal age will in time gain dominance over men.
Chapter thirty seven
Tao is eternal without doing, and yet nothing remains not done.
If princes and kings know how to guard it all thing will take shape by themselves.
If they take shape by themselves and desires arise I should banish them with unutterable simplicity. Unutterable simplicity works departure of desire.
Being without desire makes still, and the world rights itself.
This could be a chapter on the scientific Gaia Theory by James Lovelock.. In his theory all of life on this earth functions as a single organism. Life has evolved through millions of years regulating the living conditions on the earth for life itself.
We live in a compassionate and caring world of love and harmony. The problem is that we are unaware of this fact in the patriarchal world we live in. It is we, who create the conflict and chaos in our world because to quote Jesus, while on the cross; “forgive them for they know not, what they do”. Because we worship false gods, we no longer listen to the Great Mother, and so, we no not what we do.
Chapter thirty eight
The superior virtue is not conscious of itself as virtue; therefore it has virtue,
The inferior virtue never lets off virtue;
Therefore it has no virtue.
The superior virtue seems inactive, and yet there is nothing that it does not do.
The inferior virtue acts and yet in the end leaves things undone. T
he superior benevolence acts without a motive.
The superior righteousness acts with a motive.
The superior righteousness acts with a motive.
The superior ritual acts, but at first no one responds to it;
Gradually people raise their arms and follow it.
Therefore when Tao is lost, virtue follows.
When virtue is lost, benevolence follows.
When righteousness is lost, ritual follows.
Ritual, therefore, is the attenuation of loyalty and faith and the outset of confusion.
Fore-knowledge is the flower of Tao and the beginning of folly.
Therefore the truly great man keeps to the solid and not to the tenuous:
Keeps to the fruit and not to the flower.
Thus he rejects the latter and takes the former.
This chapter is making the point that if we have to learn and practice a virtue then clearly that is something we do not have. We try to bring harmony to our world through armies, policemen, laws, judges, lawyers, hanging and prisons. Yet, the underlining cause of all this conflict and chaos, is caused by hatred and fear. If all of us were able to love each other unconditionally then none of us would want to hurt or steal from others. The more we teach our children to hate and fear others, the more we create a world of chaos.
Lao Tzu lived in a world very different from our own, we are able to look back in time and see that compared with life a hundred or two hundred years ago we now live in a better and more humane society. This clearly was the opposite to Lao Tzu's time, he was looking back to what was to him a golden age, and in his own time everything seems to be getting worse. This was probably why knowledge of the past was being destroyed. Because the rulers didn't want people to know that life in the past was better then than now. As this would undermine their positions of power if people demanded that they went back to the old ways. The real difference was that in Lao Tzu's time they were moving out of a Matriarchal age into a patriarchal age, where things were getting worse, while today we are moving out of a patriarchal age into a Matriarchal age, where things will get better for us all.
Chapter thirty nine
These in the past have attained wholeness:
Heaven attains wholeness with its clarity;
The Earth attains wholeness with its firmness;
The Spirit attains wholeness with its transcendence;
The Valley attain wholeness when filled;
The Myriad Things attain wholeness in life;
The Ruler attains wholeness in the correct governance of the people.
In effecting this: If Heaven lacked clarity it would be divided;
If the Earth lacked firmness it would fly away;
If the spirit lacked transcendence it would be exhausted;
If the valley lacked fullness it would be depleted;
If the myriad things lacked life they would vanish.
If the ruler lacks nobility and loftiness he will be tripped up.
Hence Nobility has lowliness as its root
The High has the Low as its base.
Thus the kings call themselves "the orphan, the lowly, the unworthy."
Is this not taking lowliness as the fundamental? Isn't it?
In this way you can bring about great effect without burden. Not desiring the rarity of gems Or the manyness of grains of sand.
(Charles Muller translation)
If we look back at the dawn of recorded history we find that Science, religion and politics were all the same thing. Since then separation has happened where science today is opposed to religion and both are divorced from politics. At one time even sex and religion were linked and sexual rituals where commonplace in Pre-Christian Temples. So why has this happened? Why has everything separated now to the degree that science has split apart into a very large number of disciplines, religion into many religions, sects and cults, while politics into many different parties.
Scientists would claim that the reason for this is that our knowledge of the world today has become so large. That no one person today could possibly know and understand all that there is to know. This is very true, but it doesn't explain why different people with different knowledge and interests fight and oppose each other .
Masculine and therefore patriarchal thinking is all about competition and "one-up-man-ship". So it is the competitive attitude of men that create separation. The barriers that are created between science, religion, politics, sex and ordinary living are all artificial, and do not exist in the real world. For instance the conflict between science and religion is more about political power than "truth".
At one time the Christian religion was very powerful with most European peoples believing in it. It was only scientific minded people who questioned some the beliefs of Christianity and they were persecuted because of this. In the last four hundred years science has become more powerful until today more people believe in science than religion. To the degree that even most religious people are also scientific minded. The problem today is that most people assume that religion and science are poles apart, and would find it incredible that they could ever become, one again, like in our ancient past. Yet this separation is only an attitude of mind. Religious people are wary about using scientific methods to find the true nature of god, Goddess, Tao etc. For fear it might prove the nature of the universal intelligence to be very different than what they claim it to be. While science is not interested in any theory or line of research that might suggest that there is an intelligent purpose to the universe or life. For fear this will hand back power to religions or create a new religion. This is the reason the "Gaia" theory of James Lovelock is accepted by many New-Age people but ignored by most of the scientific establishment and major religions of the world. Because it suggests we live in an intelligent universe, which scientists do not like and it gives a different view of the nature of this intelligence than claimed by patriarchal religions.
If at the beginning of the patriarchal age people did see everything as a whole. It suggests that in the last Matriarchal age wholeness was a normal way of thinking and separation only came into being through patriarchy. Living in a patriarchal society it is hard to imagine a world that everything is seen as one. Where everything is seen to complement each other, rather than oppose each other.
Returning is the motion of Tao,
Weakness is the appliance of Tao.
All things in the Universe come from existence,
And existence from non-existence.
(Ch'u Ta-Kao translation)
Again this is about the return of Matriarchy or Goddess worship in the future. In the patriarchal world Women are seen as weak or soft. So it is another prediction like in the New Testament that "The meek shall inherit the Earth".
Also as pointed out before “non-existent” is a code word for mind power. We live in a world of mind, and our material world is created by what we consider to be non-existent, which is thought.
Chapter forty one
When superior students hear of the Tao
They strive to practice it.
When middling students hear of the Tao They sometimes keep it and sometimes lose it.
When inferior students hear of the Tao They have a big laugh.
But "not laughing" in itself is not sufficient to be called the Tao, and therefore it is said:
The sparkling Tao seems dark Advancing in the Tao seems like regression.
Settling into the Tao seems rough.
True virtue is like a valley.
The immaculate seems humble.
Extensive virtue seems insufficient.
Established virtue seems deceptive.
The face of reality seems to change.
The great square has no corners.
Great ability takes a long time to perfect.
Great sound is hard to hear.
The great form has no shape.
The Tao is hidden and nameless.
This is exactly why the Tao is good at developing and perfecting.
(Charles Muller translation)
Probably in Lao Tzu's time the "Superior student" was an old soul who had lived many lives in previous patriarchal and Matriarchal ages. And so would understand the ancient knowledge he was trying to preserve. a "inferior student" would probably be a infant soul who only began to live lives on the Earth at the beginning of the new patriarchal age. So the ancient knowledge of the last Matriarchal age would be meaningless to him and could only respond by laughing at it.
He points out that everything that needs to be learnt for men in the patriarchal age is nearly the opposite to what he needs to learn in the Matriarchal age. So a man in the patriarchal age learning how to love himself confronted with a teaching on how to learn to love others, would see this as a regressive step in his development.
Lao Tzu then goes on comparing the great wisdom and knowledge of the last Matriarchal age to the immature understanding of the new patriarchal age. He again says that Matriarchy was in his day, hidden knowledge. The last line of this chapter suggests that for a Matriarchal minded man to live in a patriarchal society is a great test of his ability to love others unconditionally.
Chapter forty two
Tao generates the One.
The One generates the Two.
The Two Generates the Three.
The Three generates all things.
All things have darkness at their back and strive towards the light,
and the flowing power give them harmony.
What men hate is forlornness, loneliness, being a trifle.
And yet, princes and kings choose these to describe themselves.
For things are either increased through diminution or diminished through increase.
I, too, teach what others teach: "The strong do not die a natural death".
This I will make the departure point of my teaching.
What this probably means is that the Goddess created Matriarchy, (the one) and this in turn creates patriarchy (the two) Then when both men and Women have learnt how to love themselves and love others unconditionally they can come together in equality creating the three. All things have the darkness at their backs because all things are learning spiritually no matter what they do. So the darkness of ignorance is behind them while the light of wisdom and understanding is in front of them.
He then takes another shot at the patriarchal society pointing out that princes and kings by putting themselves above others live lonely and isolated lives. (We can see this today, where many famous film-stars or pop-stars end up becoming drug-addicts or alcoholics to try and fill their empty and lonely lives). Very rich and powerful people create envy, resentment and conflict causing many patriarchal rulers to die violent deaths. Or they are worshipped like gods by the people, which also create problems, because if they believe this, it leads to madness. While if they manage to keep sane and know they are ordinary people, they became aware that this worship is false, and they cannot live up to the expectation of people who worship them.
Chapter forty three
The softest thing on earth overtakes the hardest thing on earth.
The non-existent overtakes even that which has no interstices.
From this one recognizes the value of non-action.
Teaching without words, the value of non-action is attained by but few on earth.
In this chapter Lao Tzu points out that although "soft" Women in the society of his time are see as being behind "hard" men. In time Women will overtake men and rule society. Creating the "non-existent" Matriarchal society. He then goes on to point out that it is no use teaching this to patriarchal people of his time. Just by allowing whatever will happen to happen, in time a new Matriarchal age will be created in the future.
Teaching without words, through non-action, can be a difficult conception to understand if you don’t realize we live in a world of mind. As the ancient mystic point out; “We are all One-Mind”. Therefore the thoughts and feelings we have, affect the people around us. People who are sensitive will know the atmosphere of a room can change, when someone new, walks into the room. A person who has practised self-awareness can consciously change not only his or her own thoughts and feelings, but change the thoughts and feeling of those around them, by deliberately choosing whatever thought they want. So if they are with a person who is depressed or angry, they can change this, simply by not allowing themselves to be influenced by the depression or anger and choose thoughts and feelings of love and happiness. These thoughts will strongly affect the person who is depressed or angry, without them being aware of this.
So it is possible to heal others, without them being aware of it, this is what is called non-action. This is because what is really going on, in our world, is on the level of thought and feelings.
Chapter forty four
Fame or your person, which is nearer to you?
Your person or wealth, which is dearer to you?
Over-love of anything will lead to wasteful spending;
Amassed riches will be followed by heavy plundering.
Therefore, he who knows contentment can never be humiliated;
He who knows, where to stop can never be perishable;
He will long endure.
(Ch'u Ta-Kao translation)
This chapter is again about self-awareness. If we believe that fame or wealth or spending will bring us happiness, we become fixed on obtaining these things without realizing the suffering we also cause to ourselves and others by doing this, in excess. It is only through self-awareness that we can understand what it is that really makes us happy, and not get involved in excessive behaviour. Happiness is a state of mind, and we can deliberately choose to be happy or unhappy, if we are aware that we can have whatever thoughts and feelings we choose.
Chapter forty five
Great perfection seems flawed, yet functions without a hitch.
Great fullness seems empty, yet functions without exhaustion.
Great straightness seems crooked,
Great skill seems clumsy,
Great eloquence seems stammering.
Excitement overcomes cold,
stillness overcomes heat.
Clarity and stillness set everything right.
( Charles Muller translation)
In this chapter Lao Tzu points out that patriarchal thinking has turned everything on its head. A modern example of this would be when modern scientists looks at nature he forms theories like "The survival of the fittest" or "nature red in tooth and claw". So in other words he only sees the conflict and suffering in nature and is unaware of the great harmony, wholeness and co-operation that has kept life on earth living for millions of years. In our patriarchal society we concentrate on conflict and suffering and are only interested in news about disasters, wars and discord. Thereby encouraging even more wars and conflict, as we are unable to forgive and forget the misdeeds of others.
What is perfect is basically a matter of opinion, and so we have a choice in what think is perfect. It is like the old saying; “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”.
Again this chapter points out we live in a perfect world of harmony, but because of patriarchal thinking we are unable to see and recognize it. And so we live in a world of discord of our own making. If we believe we live in a world of conflict and violence then this is what we look for and we attract and create a reality of violence and conflict. If we believe we live in a compassionate and caring world, then this is also the reality we create for ourselves and attract love and compassion into our world.
Chapter forty six
When Tao rules on earth one uses the racehorses to pull dung carts.
When Tao has been lost on earth war-horses are raised on the green fields.
There is no greater sin than many desires.
There is not greater evil than not to know sufficiency.
This is no greater defect than wanting to possess.
Therefore: the sufficiency of sufficiency is lasting sufficiency.
Again this is about the differences between the Matriarchal and patriarchal societies. Lao Tzu points out that all of the conflict and suffering in the patriarchal society is caused by people wanting and taking far more than there fair share of what society can produce. Men are naturally competitive, and so when men rule the world they create a very competitive society, unfortunately this competition in excess leads to war and genicide.
Chapter forty seven
Without going out the door, knowing everything,
Without peaking out the window shades, seeing the Way of Heaven.
The further you go, the less you know.
The sage understands without having to go through the whole process.
She is famous without showing herself.
Is perfected without striving.
(Charles Muller translation)
This chapter points out that true knowledge is self-knowledge. If we understand ourselves we also understand every other person on this earth. If we then persist in this self-knowledge then in time we understand the universal intelligence that created us all. A true sage may be unknown in our society but may be famous in the spirit world. She has gone through the patriarchal/Matriarchal cycle and has perfected her ability to love herself and all others unconditionally.
Chapter forty eight
Whosoever practices learning increases daily.
Whosoever practices Tao decreases daily.
He decreases and decreases Until at last her arrives at non-action.
In non-action nothing remains not done.
The realm can only be attained if one remains free of busyness.
The busy are not fit To attain the realm.
(Charles Muller translation)
When we attempt to understand the world through the intellectual mind, we don’t understand that the intellectual mind is limited, in what it can understand. Because of this, it means our thinking is always flawed and incomplete. Scientists today are trying to create a “theory of everything” a theory or formula that will explain everything. Some of these attempts can get very complex, like the “String Theory” that tries to understand our world through a 10 or 11 dimensional universe.
What these scientists fail to understand is that we are not the most intelligent life in the universe, and through meditation and contemplation we can access intelligence far greater than ourselves. So a mystic doesn’t attempt to understand our world through his or her intellectual brain, but by going within and communicating with the universal mind.
Chapter forty nine
The sage has no fixed mind,
She takes the mind of the people as her mind.
I treat the good as good,
I also treat the evil as good.
This is true goodness.
I trust the trustworthy,
I also trust the untrustworthy.
This is real trust.
When the sage lives with people,
she harmonizes with them
And conceals her mind for them.
The sages treat them as their little children.
(Charles Muller translation)
This chapter is about the unconditional love patriarchal Women give to others. They accept the beliefs of the patriarchal society and their husbands without question. They love and trust their husbands and children unconditionally no matter how badly they behave. She harmonizes with all around her and cares for and loves men in the same way she cares for and loves children. In this way she prevents the patriarchal society from turning into a viscous cycle of hatred and fear that we cannot escape from.
Men go out of life and enter into death.
The parts (proportions) of life are three in ten;
the Parts of death are also three in ten.
Men that from birth move towards the region of death are also three in ten.
Why is it so?
Because of their redundant effort in seeking to live.
But only those who do nothing for the purpose of living are better than those who prize their lives.
For I have heard that he who knows well how to conserve life,
when traveling on land, does not meet the rhinoceros or the tiger;
when going to a battle he is not attacked by arms and weapons.
The rhinoceros can find nowhere to drive his horn;
the tiger can find nowhere to put his claws;
the weapons can find nowhere to thrust their blades.
Why is it so?
Because he is beyond the region of death.
(Ch'u Ta-Kao translation)
This chapter is also about the concept of "creating your own reality". An observation of people shows that some people seem to be very lucky while others are not. Some people can get through life with very little conflict and strife while others are always walking into hostility and antagonism. According to the reality we create both consciously and unconsciously.
Unfortunately some people use this concept to justify blaming the poor for living in poverty. Or even blame the disable for being incapacitated. People attempt to change their reality through positive thinking. Or even cure illness through these means, as in the case of Christian Science. For some people this seems to work but for others it can have the opposite effect. What is not understood in the quest to "create your own reality" is that we have a spiritual purpose in life. If we need to learn certain spiritual lessons through conflict, poverty or illness, then we are not going to change our reality until these lessons are learnt.
Chapter fifty one
Tao generates. Life nourishes.
Environment shapes. Influences complete.
Therefore: all beings honour Tao and cherish Life.
Tao is honoured Life is cherished,
without being outwardly appointed, just for themselves.
Therefore: Tao generates,
Life nourishes, makes grow, cares, completes, keeps, covers and protects.
In our patriarchal society we clearly do not honour Tao, cherish life or cares for and protect others. So this chapter is more about the last Matriarchal society that Lao Tzu has read about in ancient scrolls. Yet at the same time we are all cared for and protected by the Great Mother who loves us all unconditionally. She has given us all the gift of freewill, and so we can refuse to hear Her or allow Her to help us, if we so wish. Unfortunately, most people in the patriarchal world are unaware that our Creatrix loves us unconditionally, and so do not ask for Her help or listen to Her.
Chapter fifty two
All things have a beginning, which we can regard as their Mother.
Knowing the mother, we can know its children.
Knowing the children, yet still cleaving to the mother You can die without pain.
Stop up the holes Shut the doors, You can finish your life without anxiety.
Open the doors, Increase your involvement's, In the end you can't be helped.
Seeing the subtle is called illumination.
Keeping flexible is called strength.
Use the illumination, but return to the light.
Don't bring harm to yourself.
This is called "practicing the eternal."
(Charles Muller translation)
This chapter is probably for the Matriarchal minded people living in Lao Tzu's time. They are asked to keep their minds on the Goddess and not get involved in the patriarchal society they live in, for fear of adopting patriarchal attitudes and ways of living. If we concentrate our minds on conflict, hatred and fear, then that becomes our reality. It is like the saying of; The Three Wise Monkeys, “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”.
If we can keep our mind on the compassionate and caring Great Mother who created us all. Then we find it is possible to live a life of love and harmony in the chaotic patriarchal world.
Chapter fifty three
If I had just a little bit of wisdom I should walk the Great Path and fear only straying from it.
Though the Way is quite broad People love shortcuts.
The court is immaculate, While the fields are overgrown with weeds, And the granaries are empty.
They wear silk finery, Carry sharp swords, Sate themselves on food and drink
Having wealth in excess.
They are called thieving braggarts.
This is definitely not the Way.
(Charles Muller translation)
Although the Tao Te Ching was written over two thousand years ago in many ways it seem to be talking about the modern age. The first paragraph could be talking about the New-Age movement where you can sign up for a weekend workshop to get instant "enlightenment". The same is true for Hinduism in India where a guru can sell you a form of meditation to get "enlightenment" quickly. So his references to shortcuts suggests this sort of thing was happening in China when the Tao Te Ching was first written.
The rest of the Chapter is again another attack on patriarchy. Pointing out how the rich take from the poor through force and violence. Claiming that the princes and emperors are nothing more that thieves and murders.
Chapter fifty four
What is planted by the best planter can never be removed;
What is embraced by the best embracer can never be loosened.
Thus his children and grandchildren will be able to continue their ancestral sacrifice for endless generations.
If he applies Tao to himself his virtue will be genuine;
if he applies it to his family his virtue will be abundant;
If he applies it to his village his virtue will be lasting;
If he applies it to his country his virtue will be full;
If he applies it to the world this virtue with be universal.
Therefor by one's person one may observe persons;
By one's family one may observe families;
By one's village one may observe villages;
By one's country one may observe countries;
By one's world one may observe world.
How do I know that the world may be so (governed by Tao)?
By this (observation).
The first part of this chapter seems to be about Lao Tzu urging people with knowledge of the last Matriarchal age to pass this knowledge down to their children. He also goes on to urge that they also set a good example to others by living a Matriarchal life in the hope that others will follow their lead. In what can be seen in the light of the history of the last two thousand years, it was a vain hope that the ideals of Matriarchy will spread until it takes over the world again. As clearly the Matriarchal movement never survived in China as Lao Tzu hoped. Taoism was taken over by Buddhism and Confucianism.
Yet, this chapter does show how a new Matriarchal age will come into being, through the power of love. As more and more people become aware of the unlimited power of the Great Mother and live lives of love and harmony, they will influence the people around them, and this is how the Matriarchal movement will grow.
Chapter fifty five
Whosoever holds fast to Life's completeness is like a newborn infant:
Poisonous snakes do not bite it.
Scavenging animals do not lay hold of it.
Birds of prey do not hunt for it.
Its bones are weak, its sinews soft, and yet it can grip firmly.
It does not yet know about man and women, and yet its blood stirs because it has abundance of seed.
It can cry all day long and yet its voice does not become hoarse because it has abundance of peace.
To know eternity means to be clear.
To increase life is called happiness.
To apply one's strength to one's desire is called strong.
When thing's have grown strong they age.
For this is the counter-Tao and counter Tao is close to the end.
Again this is about creating our own reality. If we believe we are all loved unconditionally by the Great Mother and we live in a compassionate and caring universe, then that becomes our reality. This is very similar to Psalm 23 which is a patriarchal version of the same idea.
The LORD [is] my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of Death,
I will fear no evil: for thou [art] with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
King James Version.
We live in a world of suffering because we have lost contact with our Creatrix, The Great Mother. If we can restore this contact with Her, and keep it all day long, then suffering becomes impossible for us.
Chapter fifty six
He who knows does not speak.
He who speaks does not know.
One must close one's mouth and shut ones's gates, blunt ones's sharp wit,
dissolve one's confused thoughts, moderate one's light, make one's earthiness common.
This means hidden community with Tao.
Whosoever has this cannot be influenced by love.
Nor can he be influenced by coldness.
He cannot be influenced by gain, nor can he be influenced by loss.
He cannot be influenced by glory, nor can he be influenced by lowliness.
Therefore is he the most glorious on earth.
The traditional interpretation of this chapter is that it is all about being humble, and not boasting about your knowledge and wisdom. Yet if Taoism was originally a Matriarchal religion that survived into patriarchal time. There would be another reason to keep silent, and fit in with the patriarchal society. To speak out about Matriarchal would be very dangerous, so only patriarchal people were allowed to speak publicly.
Most of what is written in the Tao Te Ching suggests that there was a within Taoism a secret organization, those purpose was to preserve the knowledge of the last Matriarchal age. This is very suggestive in the last part of the chapter as it seems to be about not being tempted to reveal there secrets. Taoism has since died out in China and was mainly taken over by Buddhism. Though whether a secret society survived in China to the present day devoted to preserving ancient knowledge is something we cannot know. As if it is a truly secret society we will not know about it. Certainly the present day government of China would be as unsympathetic as the government in Lao Tzu's time to knowledge of a Matriarchal past.
In Europe we can see a similar pattern. The Witches of the middle-ages were tortured and burnt alive because they worshipped and Goddess. So Witchcraft then was the last remains of a very ancient Goddess religion. There are other secret societies in Europe like the Freemasons and the Rosicrucians, At first glance these organizations look as if they have nothing whatever to do with Matriarchy. Yet looking at books on Freemason symbolism I have been surprised at the vast amount of Goddess symbolism it displays. Likewise though not to the same degree there is Goddess symbolism in Rosicrucianism. Whether Freemasons today have any knowledge of the last Matriarchal age is something we cannot know. It may have started out as a secret Matriarchal organization but over time its secrets were lost. Probably now its members have no idea how Freemasonry started and what was its original purpose. Though having said that it is of interest the originator of modern Witchcraft a man called Gerald B. Gardner was also a Freemason.
Chapter Fifty Seven
To rule a state one needs the art of government;
for the craft of arms one needs extraordinary talent.
But in order to win the world one must be free of all busy-ness.
How do I know that this is the world's way?
The more things are in the world that one must not do, the more people are impoverished.
The more people have sharp implements.
The more house and state tumble into destruction.
The more people cultivate art and cleverness, the more ominous signs arise.
The more law and order are propagated, the more thieves and robbers there will be.
Therefore, the Man of Calling say: If we do nothing the people will change of themselves.
If we love stillness The people right themselves of themselves.
If we undertake nothing the people will become rich of themselves.
If we have no cravings the people will become simple of themselves.
The first half of this chapter is another attack on the patriarchal society pointing out its governments needs obedient troops, arms and violence to survive and rule the people. Lao Tzu points out that patriarchal governments have a problem in that if they use too much violence and oppressive laws. The people become very discontented and lose interest working for the good of society which causes it to decline. Yet if they do not have oppressive laws and violent means to enforce them the government lose their powers to the people.
He then goes on to suggest that patriarchy has within it the seeds of its own destruction. So he is saying to other Matriarchal minded people that all we need to do is wait and a new Matriarchal age will come into being of its own accord. We can see that his prophecy is coming true within the last five hundred years. The peasants uprising in the middle-ages in Europe and later the English Civil War of the 17th century then later the French and American, and Russian revolutions have frightened patriarchal governments. They are now more willing to give in to the people and give them more freedom and power. Yet no matter how much they give in to the people they find that they are still dissatisfied. People are more and more questioning the totally unequal and unfair patriarchal societies we live in. This questioning is destroying all patriarchal institutions and probably in time it will be seen as completely immoral for a small percentage of the people within society to own 90% of a country's wealth. As in the case in today's world and has always been the case in all patriarchal societies. With a more equal distribution of a country's wealth, conflict and crime will decrease and we will be able to live in more harmonize and caring societies.
Chapter fifty eight
The ruler whose government is calm and unobtrusive,
his people are upright and honest.
The ruler whose government is sharp-witted and strict,
his people are underhand and unreliable.
Happiness rests on unhappiness;
But who is aware that the highest good is not to have orders issued?
For otherwise order turns into oddities,
and good turns into superstition,
and the days of the people's delusion are truly prolonged.
Thus also is the Man of Calling: he sets an example without cutting others down to size;
he is conscientious without being hurtful;
he is genuine without being arbitrary;
he is bright without being blinding.
This chapter follows on from the same theme as the last chapter. Strangely he seems to anticipated many modern themes in politics. By saying that government should be unobtrusive, he is saying something similar to modern political ideals of "less government interference" and "getting the government off our backs". Unfortunately modern politicians use these ideals to justify cutting the taxes of their rich and wealthy paymasters and increase hidden taxes like sales tax. Which puts a greater tax burden on the poor. Or they use it as an excuse to repeal company laws that keep mult-national companies under control. As well as cutting welfare payments at a time when the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. So "less goverment" is useless in this contents, unless it also means giving more power and resources to the common people.
In saying that governments should be less sharp-witted and strict. He is again anticipating the modern theme of politicians to present themselves as "simple men of the people". In Lao Tzu's time rulers presented themselves as gods or as very wise people who were far more intelligent than the normal person. Today this image is totally unacceptable to most of the people, who are no longer willing to be "talked down to".
He then goes on to explain that happiness creates unhappiness and visa-versa. Then by saying that. "But who is aware that the highest good is not to have orders issued? He seems to anticipated the ideals of the New-age movement by over two thousands years. Which has a ideal of leaderless groups and communities, which they somehow do not seem to be able to make work. The only people who have shown that they can do this is the Women's Liberation and later Feminists movements. Who where able to force governments to give Women a fairer deal without leaders and hierarchical organization. Likewise in the Greenham Common Peace Camp of the 1980s Women showed that they were able to live and work together without again leaders and a structured organization. So is Lao Tzu giving us a hint to the nature of the last Matriarchal society?
He then goes on to point out something similar to a modern saying which goes "the first casualty in war is truth". It is also the first casualty in power politics, where ambitious politics tell lies to the people to keep or gain power, and is countered by more lies for those who oppose them. So people become confused and do not know who to believe.
Again he points out that a great ruler is someone who is humble and doesn't put him or herself above others. Unfortunately modern politicians although are aware that to present this image can get them votes, they do not practice this in reality.
Chapter fifty nine
In governing the country and serving Heaven
There is nothing like frugality.
Only by being frugal can you recover quickly.
When you recover quickly you accumulate virtue.
Having accumulated virtue,
There is nothing you can't overcome.
When there is nothing you can't overcome
Who knows the limits of your capabilities?
These limits being unfathomable
You can possess the country.
The Mother who possesses the country can be long-living.
This is called "planting the roots deeply and firmly."
The way to long life and eternal vision.
(Charles Muller translation)
Again we have another modern political theme in the first line of this chapter of cutting government spending. That is to say for governments to be more frugal. But again unfortunately the savings that are made by modern governments are given to the rich in less taxes and the burden on the poor is increased. In Lao Tzu's time the rulers would take from the poor to live very lavish lifestyles, or to finance wars against other states. In more modern times it has been discovered that if the rulers take too much from the people they become unproductive. As we can see today in many third world countries where all the wealth is owned by only a handful of people. In countries where people are given greater rewards for their labour they are able to be more creative and productive which benefits the economy as a whole.
In talking about "The Mother who possesses the country" he is probably talking about a Matriarchal society. In a truly free and equal society, people who have the resources and freedom to be creative can accomplish far more than people who are restricted by poverty and restrictive laws. We can see how much more creative and productive are modern democratic societies than those run by dictatorships. But in reality modern democratic societies are not truly free and equal. There is still a very large gap between the rich and poor, which has increased over the last twenty years. At the same time most people are held down by many restrictive laws that protect only the rich. So although more people are allowed to be creative in a democratic society than in a dictatorship, the majority of the people are still not given this opportunity. So you can imagine just how much more productive and creative would a Matriarchal society would be like if it allowed all the people to be creative without having to worry about poverty and restrictive laws.
Governing a large country is like frying a small fish.
You spoil it with too much poking.
Center your country in the Tao and evil will have no power.
Not that it isn't there, but you'll be able to step out of its way.
Give evil nothing to oppose and it will disappear by itself.
(Stephen Mitchell translation)
Again this chapter is making the point that the more governments are able to leave the people alone with less laws and restrictions the better the government. Yet it also says to "Center you county in the Tao" as the Tao is another word for Goddess. It probably is suggesting that a free, equal and leaderless government is only possible in a Matriarchy. Evil is caused by conflict and fear, which in turn is created by the aggressive behavior of men. If men are not given any reason to be aggressive and competitive with others then "evil" disappears from our society.
Chapter sixty one
The great state should be like a river basin.
The mixing place of the world,
The feminine of the world.
The feminine always overcomes the masculine by softness Because softness is lesser.
Therefore if a large state serves a small state
It will gain the small state.
If a small state serves a large state
It will gain the large state.
Therefore some serve in order to gain
And some gain despite their servitude.
The large state wants nothing more
Than to unite and feed its people.
The small state wants nothing more
Than to enter into the service of the right person.
Thus both get what they want.
Greatness lies in placing oneself below.
(Charles Muller translation)
This beautiful described translation about states seem to be greatly idealized, because what is described doesn't happen in our patriarchal age. Unfortunately in our patriarchal society if you place yourself below another you are more likely to treated in contempt and exploited. It is more likely to be describing what happened in the last Matriarchal age and hopeful will happen in the coming Matriarchal age.
Chapter Sixty Two
The Tao is the centre of the universe,
the good man's treasure, and bad man's refuge.
Honours can be bought with fine words,
respect can be won with good deeds;
but the Tao is beyond all value, and no one can achieve it.
Thus, when a new leader is chosen, don't offer to help him with your wealth or your expertise.
Offer instead to teach him about the Tao.
Why did the ancient Masters esteem the Tao?
Because, being one with the Tao, when you seek, you find;
and when you make a mistake, you are forgiven.
That is why everybody loves it.
(Stephen Mitchell translation)
This chapter is about the praise of the Goddess, pointing out that She love us all unconditionally. Some of this chapter could be taken out of the New Testament except the Tao Te Ching was written 500 years before the life of Jesus. When he tried to put forward the concept of a loving Father God.
Lao Tzu does suggest that any Matriarchal minded person in the court of a ruler should teach him about the Tao. After his death Taoism did attempt to become the religion of the Chinese Emperor's court, but the Chinese rulers preferred Confucianism and Buddhism. Probably the attack Lao Tzu makes on the patriarchal society didn't go down too well with the patriarchal rulers.
Chapter Sixty three
Act non-action; undertake no undertaking; taste the tasteless.
The Sage desires the desireless, and prizes no article that are difficult to get.
He learns no learning, but reviews what others have passed through.
Thus he lets all things develop in their natural way, and does not venture to act.
Regard the small as great; regard the few as many.
Manage the difficult while they are easy;
Manage the great while they are small.
All difficult things in the world start from the small.
The tree that fills a man's arms arise from a tender shoot;
The nine-storied tower is raised from a heap of earth;
A thousand mile's journey begins from the spot under one's feet.
Therefore the Sage never attempts great things, and thus he can achieve what is great.
He who makes easy promises will seldom keep his word;
He who regards many things as easy will find many difficulties.
Therefore the Sage regards things as difficult, and consequently never has difficulties.
(Ch'u Ta-Kao translation)
This is like many other spiritual writings about, “living in the now” or live, “one day at a time” or “going with the flow”.
Chapter sixty four
That which is at rest is easy to grasp.
That which has not yet come about is easy to plan for.
That which is fragile is easily broken.
That which is minute is easily scattered.
Handle things before they arise.
Manage affairs before they are in a mess.
A thick tree grows from a tiny seed.
A tall building arises from a mound of earth.
A journey of a thousand miles starts with one step.
Contriving, you are defeated;
Grasping, you lose.
The sage doesn't contrive, so she isn't beaten.
Not grasping, she doesn't lose.
When people are carrying out their projects
They usually blow it at the end.
If you are as careful at the end As you were at the beginning,
You won't be disappointed.
Therefore the sage desires non-desire,
Does not value rare goods, Studies the unlearnable
So that she can correct the mistakes of average people
And aid all things in manifesting their true nature
Without presuming to take the initiative.
(Charles Muller translation)
This chapter doesn’t need any explanation, it is mostly commonsense advice.
Chapter sixty five
The ancient Masters didn't try to educate the people,
But kindly taught them to not-know.
When they think they know the answers, people are difficult to guide.
When they know they don't know, people can find their own way.
If you want to learn how to govern, avoid being clever or rich.
The simplest pattern is the clearest.
Content with an ordinary life, you can show all people the way back to their own true nature.
(Stephen Mitchell translation)
Again we have the problem of a scholar like Lao Tzu preaching against knowledge and education. What he is saying is that it is easier to teach someone if they have an open mind. Once people think they know all the answers, then they become fixed in their thinking, and further teaching becomes impossible.
Chapter sixty six
The reason the river and sea can be regarded as The rulers of all the valley streams
Is because of their being below them.
Therefore they can be their rulers.
So if you want to be over people
You must speak humbly to them
If you want to lead them
You must place yourself behind them.
Thus the sage is positioned above And the people do not feel oppressed.
He is in front and they feel nothing wrong.
Therefore they like to push him front and never resent him.
Since he does not contend
No one can contend with him.
(Charles Muller translation)
Again this sounds like a description of the last Matriarchal society, because in the whole of patriarchal history we do not find humble leaders. We are more likely to have arrogant and aggressive leaders. It is true that many modern leaders do not act as conceited and overbearing as leaders of the past have done. Yet the humility they show is more likely to be an act suggested by their P.R. man. Though it does give a pointer to how everything is changing. Perhaps in time the people will be able to elect truly wise, caring and trustful leaders and not people who only act that way.
Some say that my teaching is nonsense.
Others call it lofty but impractical
But to those who have looked inside themselves,
This nonsense makes perfect sense.
And to those who put it into practice, this loftiness has roots that go deep.
I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion.
These three are you greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and in thoughts, you return to the source of being.
Patient with both friends and enemies, you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate towards yourself, you reconcile all beings in the world.
(Stephen Mitchell translation)
From a patriarchal point of view off coarse what is written in the Tao Te Ching is nonsense. Simplicity, patience and compassion has never been part of the patriarchal mind set. Though this could describe Women in a patriarchal society. The second part of this chapter describes a person who is not only able to love others unconditionally but also is able to love themselves, we need to do this to be balanced. If we only love others and not ourselves, we are easily taken advantage off and may even become a masochist. If on the other hand we only love ourselves then we become extremely selfish. We need to learn how to love ourselves and others at the same time.
Chapter sixty eight
The best warrior is never aggressive.
The best fighter is never angry.
The best tactician does not engage the enemy.
The best utilizer of people's talents places himself below them.
This is called the virtue of non-contention.
It is called the ability to engage people's talents.
It is called the ultimate in merging with Heaven.
(Charles Muller translation)
In the world of magic or mind power, whenever you oppose or fight anyone, or anything, you make it stronger. In other words, if two people, or two countries, hate each other, then that hated becomes more and more powerful. Hatred can only be overcome through love and understanding.
This is why in the world of magic or mind power the masculine is always at a disadvantage, because it is natural for the masculine fight, thereby making his ‘enemy’ stronger and stronger. While the feminine uses the power of love and appreciation, which is ultimate power in the magic world of mind. This is why, when Women learn about mind power, as they are beginning to do in the many, ‘positive thinking’ books in book shops, they will be able to use this power to take over the world.
Chapter sixty nine
An ancient tactician has said: 'I dare not act as a host but would rather retreat a foot'
This implies that he does not marshal the ranks as if there were no ranks;
He does not roll up his sleeves as if he had no arm;
He does not seize as if he had no weapons;
He does not fight as if there were no enemies,
No calamity is greater that under-estimating the enemy.
To under-estimate the enemy is to be on the point of losing our treasure (love).
Therefore when opposing armies meet in the field the ruthful will win.
(Ch'u Ta-Kao translation)
This chapter follows on from the same theme in the last chapter, but it also has a meaning in the patriarchal world of war.
Lao Tzu in this chapter seems to have anticipated the whole patriarchal history of war. It was the Romans hundreds of years after Lao Tzu who realized that passive and obedient soldiers were more than a match for aggressive but ill-disciplined warriors.
The Classic example of retreating to gain an advantage was in the Peninsular War of 1808-14. In the war between the French and British and Spanish forces. When General Wellesley (later know as the Duke of Wellington) took control of the British troops the first thing he done was to retreat hundreds of miles over mountains back into Portugal. The French made the mistake of following him and found in the winter that they had to supply their troops over inhospitable mountains, while being attacked by Spanish guerrillas. The British troops meanwhile were being supplied by ships from Britain and General Wellesley had time to train them, as well as Portuguese troops. The result was that by the coming spring the British troops were fit, well fed and well trained while the poorly supplied French troops were starving and demoralized. The result was that General Wellesley was able to quickly liberate Spain and invade France, within a year. Later on he was to defeat Napoleon Bonaparte in the battle of Waterloo. It should be noted here also that General Wellesley in a uncaring age was famous for the way he looked after and cared for his troops. He was even seen to cry, if his troops took too many causalities.
His great example was forgotten a hundred years later in the 1914-18 war by the British army. When they sent their troops against machine gun fire to die in their thousand just to gain a few hundred yards of ground. They also allowed their troops to live in unsanitary conditions in the trenches, which resulted in many thousand dying of disease. Something the Duke of Wellington never allowed to happen. In an age when medicine was less advanced he was able to keeps his troops free of widespread illness.
My teachings are easy to understand and easy to put into practice.
Yet your intellect will never grasp them, and if you try to practice them, you'll fail.
My teachings are older than the world. How can you grasp their meaning?
If you want to know me, Look inside your heart.
(Stephen Mitchell translation)
The teachings of the Taoism is not about intellectual understanding, as it is commonplace for spiritual teachings to be distorted by intellectual reasoning, and turned into a dogma. It is more about going within and learning to know oneself.
Chapter seventy one
Not - knowing is true knowledge.
Presuming to know is a disease.
First realize that you are sick; then you can move toward health.
The Master is her own physician.
She has healed herself of all knowing. Thus she is truly whole.
(Stephen Mitchell translation)
Again we have another translator referring to the sage as a She. In this chapter it points out that once you believe you know something, it puts a block on further understanding. This is why new ideas and beliefs are at first attacked because they go against the prevailing fixed "truths".
Chapter seventy two
When the people do not fear your might Then your might has truly become great.
Don't interfere with their household affairs.
Don't oppress their livelihood.
If you don't oppress them they won't feel oppressed.
Thus the sage understands herself But does not show herself.
Loves herself But does not prize herself.
Therefore she lets go of that
And takes this.
(Charles Muller translation)
Again Lao Tzu points out that in the patriarchal society rulers rule by fear. (If you do not obey those in power you go to prison, loose your job, or if you are religious minded, you go to hell). He is suggesting that in the last Matriarchal age people were ruled by love and not fear.
Chapter seventy three
He who shows courage in daring will perish;
He who shows courage in not-daring will live.
To know these two is to distinguish the one, benefit, from the other, harm.
Who can tell that one of them should be loathed by heaven?
The Tao of heaven does not contend; yet it surely wins the victory.
It does not speak; yet all things come of their own accord.
It remains taciturn; yet it surely makes plans.
The net of heaven is vast, and its meshes are wide;
Yet from it nothing escapes.
(Ch'u Ta-Kao translation)
As men are more aggressive than Women they are willing to recklessly throw away their lives. We can see this today with suicide bombers or even with young men in powerful cars, where the vast majority of road accidents are caused by young men driving too fast. Women today are beginning to speak out against men's reckless and irresponsible behavior. So in a Matriarchal society they will probably curb it. So it suggest that Lao Tzu's "Tao of heaven" that loathes this behaviour, is the rule of Women.
He goes on to point out that although Women in a patriarchal society keep silent about the behaviour of men. In time both men and Women will realize the wisdom of having Women rule the world.
Chapter Seventy four
If the people do not fear death:
how can one frighten them with death?
But if I keep the people constantly in fear of death and if someone does strange things:
should I grab him and kill him?
Who dares do this?
There is always a power of death that kills.
To kill instead of leaving killing to this power of death is as if one wanted to use the axe oneself instead of leaving it to the carpenter.
Whosoever would use the axe instead of leaving it to the carpenter shall rarely get away without injuring his hand.
This chapter seems to be in answer to an unknown question. It seems to be that Matriarchal minded people in Lao Tzu's age discussed the possibility of having a violent revolution to overthrow the patriarchal rulers. In answer to this he points out if they use violence then they become no better than the patriarchal leaders. So even if they were successful in becoming rulers. To keep patriarchal people in order they would have to use the patriarchal methods of violence to do this. He then goes on to point out that it would be best to leave the trade of violence to those who practice it. If they were to do the same they would probably get hurt. Which is similar to Jesus's statement of "Giving unto Caesar what is Caesar's".
In more recent times we have had the French and Russians revolutions where the patriarchal rulers were overthrown by a popular but violent uprising. Unfortunately the new rulers turned out to be as bad, if not worse, than the rulers they replaced.
Chapter seventy five
The reason people starve Is because their rulers tax them excessively.
They are difficult to govern
Because their rulers have their own ends in mind.
The reason people take death lightly Is because they want life to be rich.
Therefore they take death lightly. It is only by not living for your own ends
That you can go beyond valuing life.
(Charles Muller translation)
Lao Tzu is pointing out in this chapter that if the rulers are too harsh to the people or tax them to the degree they go hungry. There quality of life is so degraded that they do not care whether they live or die. For this reason the threat of death and violence by the rulers has little effect on them and therefore they are ready to sacrifice their lives in revolution or disobedence. This is the reason why the Christians invented the concept of going to hell when we died for those who are "bad", i.e. those disobeyed the rich and powerful. So that they could even intimidate those who didn't care whether they lived or died.
Chapter Seventy six
Men are born soft and supple;
Dead, they are stiff and hard.
Plants are born tender and pliant; dead, they are brittle and dry.
Thus whosoever is stiff and inflexible is a disciple of death.
Whosoever is soft and yielding is a disciple of life
The hard and stiff will be broken. The soft and supple will prevail.
(Stephen Mitchell translation)
Again we have the comparison between men and Women and the patriarchal and Matriarchal societies. Women are off course the soft ones who are tender ,pliant, yielding and the disciples of life. While men are hard, stiff, brittle, dry , inflexible and the disciples of death, (as we see in numerous wars and acts of violence). He then goes on to say that because of this the patriarchal society will be broken and die and the Matriarchal society will prevail in its place.
Chapter seventy seven
The Tao of Heaven: how it resembles the archer!
He presses down what is high and raises that with is low.
Whatever has too much he reduces, whatever does not have enough he completes.
It is the Tao of Heaven to deduce what has too much and to complete what does not have enough. Man's Tao is not so.
He reduces what does not have enough, in order to offer it to what has too much.
But who is capable of offering to the world that of which he has too much
Only he who has Tao.
Thus also is the Man of Calling: he works and does not keep.
When the work is done he does not tarry with it.
He does not desire to show off his importance to others.
(Richard Wilhelm translation)
This chapter points out again that a patriarchal society is one of extreme inequality. With the rich and powerful rulers demanding more than what the people can give. It also says that Matriarchal people are more caring and giving and this is why a Matriarchal society will be more balanced and equal for everyone.
The weakest things in the world can overmatch the strongest things in the world.
Nothing in the world can be compared to the water for its weak and yielding nature;
yet in attacking the hard and the strong nothing proves better than it.
For there is no other alternative to it.
The weak can overcome the strong and the yielding can overcome the hard:
This all the world knows but does not practice.
Therefore the Sage says:
He who sustains all the reproaches of the country can be the master of the land;
He who sustains all the calamities of the country can be the kings of the world.
These are the words of the truth, Though they seem paradoxical.
(Ch'u Ta-Kao translation)
This chapter is repeating the theme that "the weak shall inherit the earth". In other words the "weak" Women will overcome the strong and hard men and rule the earth.
The last patriarchal age came about through war and violence, yet it is very unlikely that a new matriarchal age will come about this way. Women can only take over and rule the world through feminine methods. Once women realise that we live in a world of mind, then women can take over the world by mind-power by creating a matriarchal reality. While we insist that we live in a material world, or a world ruled by an angry male god, then men will always have the advantage. Because in a material world men are bigger, stronger and more aggressive than women. If we accept that we live in a world of mind, then men lose this physical advantage, and women can create a reality where they have power over men, if they want to do this.
Chapter seventy nine
Return love for great hatred.
Otherwise, when a great hatred is reconciled, some of it will surely remain.
How can this end in goodness?
Therefore the Sage holds to the left half of an agreement but does not exact what the other holder ought to do.
The virtueless resort to agreement;
The virtuous resort to exaction. 'The Tao of Heaven shows no partiality;
It abides always with good men.'
(Ch'u Ta-Kao translation)
This chapter is very similar to the teachings of Jesus like "love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (Matt 43). "If anyone slaps your right cheek, let him slap your left cheek too. And if someone take you to court to sue you for your shirt, let him have your coat as well. And if the occupation troops forces you to carry his pack one kilometer, carry it two kilometers." (Matt 38. Good News translation).
The left half of an agreement is the feminine side of a agreement. Similar to what in know in Hinduism and Western occultism as the "left-handed path". The right-handed path is the masculine "good" path while the left-handed path is the feminine "evil" path. So this is another hint to where Lao Tzu's sympathies lie. The whole chapter is all about unconditional love which Women practice in the patriarchal age and men will learn to practice in the Matriarchal age.
Let there be a small country with few people,
Who, even having much machinery, don't use it.
Who take death seriously and don't wander far away.
Even though they have boats and carriages, t
hey never ride in them.
Having armor and weapons, they never go to war.
Let them return to measurement by tying knots in rope.
Sweeten their food, give them nice clothes,
a peaceful abode and a relaxed life.
Even though the next country can be seen and its dogs and chickens can be heard,
The people will grow old and die without visiting each others land.
(Charles Muller translation)
This is again is probably a description of what the last Matriarchal age was like. Yet like our own patriarchal age the last Matriarchal age probably lasted for thousands of years and would of evolved and changed in that time. So it doesn't mean that the whole of the last Matriarchal age was like this.
This chapter sounds like the perfect "back to the land" Hippie or New-Age community. I am sure many people will want to live like this but I don't think it is for all people. I am sure there will we many alternative and different types of Matriarchal communities.
Chapter eighty one
True words are not beautiful, beautiful words are not true.
Competence does not persuade, persuasion is not competent.
The sage is not learned,
The learned man is not wise.
The Man of Calling does not heap up possessions.
The more he does for others, the more he possesses.
The more he gives to others,
The more he has.
The Tao of Heaven is 'furthering without causing harm'.
The Tao of the Man of Calling is to be effective without quarreling.
This Chapter is about how all patriarchal values are mistaken. We are persuaded by eloquent words without wondering it what they say is true. We are persuaded by the lies of politicians and salesmen, knowing full well their reputation for dishonesty. So we are more impressed by bullshit than truth and are not prepared to think for ourselves.
Lao- Tzu also points out that just because a person has studied and read many books and is very academically qualified this doesn't make them wise. In fact it can be a barrier against wisdom because in their studies they haven't had much experience of real life and can live in a world of unreal academic theories.
He then goes on to say that the "Man of Calling" is a man who practices unconditional love, and he derives great pleasure and fulfilment in giving and helping others.